Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: SpeedyPrep


College is very expensive.  Getting college credit from home is a much better deal.  That's why we were so excited to have the opportunity to use SpeedyPrep.

Our family learned about CLEP exams last year when a friend took his first one, passed it, and received 6 credits for Analyzing and Interpreting Literature at the university he plans to attend next year.

We were stunned!

We asked every question we could about CLEP exams, and decided that preparing for and taking CLEP exams would be a wise decision for most of the students in our family.

The question was--How do we prepare?

Enter SpeedyPrep.


SpeedyPrep is an online, subscription-based, drill program.

Each exam for which SpeedyPrep offers preparation is subdivided into focused subjects.  For example, Rose Red has been working on American Literature.  Preparation for this course is divided into 18 study sections.  Each section includes "flashcards."  The flashcards are questions typical of those found on the CLEP exam that the student answers.  Through repetition and instant feedback, the student learns and retains information. 

The first time a question appears, it is in fill-in-the-blank form:


The student fills in the blank as best as possible.

The student receives immediate feedback about the answer given.  Whether the answer is correct or incorrect, explanatory material is offered for the student to study and memorize.


The question pool is static.  As the student opens the same section for study, the same questions will be offered.  However, after a student gets the initial fill-in-the-blank question correct, the questions change to multiple choice (at least that's the best pattern we could understand from our experience):


(This is my wrong answer that I got when I opened a study session for the purpose of this review.  Rose Red is not going to be very happy when she sees I've messed with her statistics!)

As I understand it, the reasoning behind the fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice offerings is that students have to work harder to fill in the blank correctly than they do to check A, B, or C, but once they know an answer, they can simply check a box to work more quickly through the "flashcards."

Sometimes there is a video to watch that shares more information with the student.

Rose Red says the videos have been very helpful.

As students get answers correct, a "progress bar" is filled:


This is Rose Red's progress bar for American Literature.  We thought the wonderful years we've spent reading and enjoying American Lit would be good preparation for the exam.

We were wrong!

It has taken Rose Red quite a bit of time to reach her 90% status in that first section, and now she's just barely started studying the second section.

SpeedyPrep guarantees that when a student reaches 90-100% mastery on the progress bar, the student is capable of passing that part of the exam.  

In addition, I (as parent/teacher) can check to see how faithfully she's studied by this page that shows the date, time, and percent correct for each study session she's opened.

I highly recommend spending a good amount of time viewing SpeedyPrep's website (including the FAQ) and getting to know what they offer and what prerequisite recommendations are made.  I thought I'd done a reasonable job researching, but I found out after the fact that I'd barely scratched the surface.

How did I find this out?

By asking Rose Red to open study sessions for subjects for which she was not prepared. 

In my head was the idea that as she's already taken 1 semester of college Spanish, she could do CLEP preparation for review and some challenge work.  Imagine our surprise when she opened one of the listening exercises and heard a rapid-fire Spanish lecture!

When I did even a modicum of investigating, I found that the CLEP exam tests materials that college students are expected to have mastered after 2-4 semesters of study!

Oops!

I also never bothered to look up what was covered in College Mathematics (I never took it because I took AP Calculus in high school and majored in English), so I thought that Rose Red, who struggles with math, could study via SpeedyPrep at home and test out of having to take College Mathematics someday. 

I was wrong.

She'll definitely need actual instruction in mathematics at a college level.

SpeedyPrep does not take the place of any actual course of study, nor does the company claim to do so.  The website encourages students to have taken and passed a high school level equivalent of any subject before enrolling in SpeedyPrep drills.

The benefit of SpeedyPrep is test preparation . . . and the saving of lots of time and money on college.

Rose Red is a poor test taker.  She can know material perfectly, and then not be able to demonstrate it on tests.  However, her experience with SpeedyPrep so far has been encouraging.  She's learning how to read and answer test questions, and the progress bar that registers correctly answered questions is filling her with confidence that she just might be able to take and pass an actual American Literature CLEP exam.



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